Finding Chan/Zen in Mistranslation
Location: Room 403, Barker Center, 12 Quincy St, Cambridge, MA
Sponsor: Harvard Buddhist Studies Forum
Harvard Buddhist Studies Forum Lecture
Jason Protass, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Brown University
Zen Buddhism is often said to preserve the transmission of Chinese Chan to Japan. However, Japanese and Chinese monks frequently did not share a spoken language. Diverse sources from China and Japan reveal the roles of bilingual interpreters, written communication, Sinitic poetry, and silence. This lecture takes it point of departure from translingual misunderstandings in the 11th to 14th centuries. Cases of failure and frustration, together with episodes wherein miscommunication became the grounds for religious inspiration, present us an opportunity to reconsider the significance of mistranslation in the history of religions.